Every Tuesday this season, a few of us here at The Comeback will gather to reflect on the previous episode of Game of Thrones and predict what might happen next week and beyond.
Last week, we looked back at episode two and questioned if Theon Greyjoy was the worst. Now it’s time to discuss episode three. Also a warning, if you did not watch the trailer for episode four and don’t plan on it, avoid the last two questions of this discussion.
1. Three questions in one! Grade? MVP? LVP?
David Lauterbach: It’s an A- for me for similar reasons to everyone else here. This episode featured A TON of plot development and had some great, albeit brief, battle scenes. As for MVP, that’s easy with Cersei because in the same episode where the Iron Bank of Braavos told her she wasn’t the favorite, Cersei turned things around on them and basically wiped out what was left of Dany’s Westerosi army. As for LVP, it has to be Tyrion. Every battle plan he’s come up with has backfired and failed! Yes, they took Casterly Rock, but they won’t be able to hold it.
Sam Blazer: This was a pretty great episode as storylines continue to converge and make for one heck of a season. My most valuable player goes to Olenna Tyrell as she goes down swinging, basically flashing a middle finger for all of the seven kingdoms to see. My least valuable player is Tyrion’s war tactics as he continues to get it wrong. Something tells me that Dany isn’t going to put up with it much longer.
Andrew Bucholtz: This one gets an A- from me. Lots of different characters involved, but every scene was pretty consequential, and most felt about the right length. It was well-paced, and there were smart plotting decisions (Cersei’s revenge on Ellaria Sand and the Lannister army showing up at Highgarden in particular), smart directing decisions (including the headfake of Tyrion’s narration over the imaginary wall-storming), and smart writing decisions (the Tyrion/Jon and Jaime/Olenna scenes in particular had great dialogue). About the only thing I felt they could have been done better was the first Jon/Dany meeting; it had moments, but wasn’t great overall. But the episode itself was. I give Tyrion the MVP for his mediation between Dany and Jon and his sewer assault plan, and Dany the LVP for being too haughty towards Jon and too easily outmaneuvered by Cersei.
Alex Putterman: This one gets a B+. A lot happened, and it was engaging start to finish, but it felt somewhat hectic and a little bit rushed. MVP was Cersei, and LVP was her little brother Tyrion. I think it’s time for Tyrion to retire from war strategy because that is not working out well for him.
Matt Clapp: 9.3/10.
MVP: Jorah. This may seem like an odd choice given the storylines involving so many significant characters, but we figured he was totally an afterthought, and now he may have a real role to play. Samwell obviously gets the assist here.
LVP: Ellaria. For obvious reasons.
Jeff Snyder: For a grade, I’m giving it a solid A. The dialogue is some of the best since Seasons 1 & 2. The MVP is Lady Olenna Tyrell. She owned her death scene unlike anyone before. LVP? I guess Bran. If you want to prove you can see everything to your sister, choose a different memory. I mean, come on.
2. We have finally seen Jon Snow and Dany share the screen together after 6.25 long seasons, what was your opinion of their meeting and where do you think their relationship will go moving forward?
DL: I thought the meeting was good, but not great. Why was Jon so hesitant to avoid telling them he was killed and brought back to life? Why didn’t it come up that Melisandre said Dany should summon him? Why did Jon come across as so timid? Why wasn’t Varys in the room to begin with? It was good, but not great. As for their relationship going forward it’s them against Cersei and The Night King, they just have to pick who to fight first.
SB: The meeting was terse. They are two different people. Dany is more about the pomp and circumstance. Jon is more about the here and now. He wants stuff done and he doesn’t really understand the political ramifications surrounding it.
They have to hook up at some point, right? They are two attractive people that will be spending loads of time together. Jorah may enter back in but it remains to be seen what his return will bring.
AB: To me, their meeting was a little lackluster. I did love the recitation of Dany’s ridiculous string of titles followed by Davos’ “This is Jon Snow” (Davos is an excellent character overall, and a perfect one to be at that meeting), and I thought that some of their conversation was interesting (especially about familial sins), but both Dany and Jon seemed to go into that meeting without a real achievable plan beyond “Get them to do what I want.” That could be an okay long-term editorial decision if you want them to slowly align with Tyrion’s help, but it didn’t make either character look particularly smart. And even if the goal is to keep them from teaming up immediately, it might have been more interesting to have them verbally go at it hammer and tongs a bit more rather than awkwardly dance around a bit.
AP: Their meeting was about what I would expect: tense but ultimately respectful. I think their relationship changed a lot with the events that ended this episode. With so much of Dany’s army wiped out, she needs Jon more than ever and might have to retract her demand that he bend the knee. She could use his help, whether or not he swears fealty to her. We should also keep in mind that as soon as he gets back to Winterfell, Bran will tell him he’s a Targaryen.
MC: I was very surprised by how much screen time they had together and how the show jumped right into it. That was great. It naturally started off a little rocky, but there was progress made — thanks mainly to Tyrion — and I figure their relationship will only grow now.
JS: I loved it. It’s been a long wait, but they both stood firm on their positions. The relationship will warm up significantly, though. After this episode, they need each other, and that look from Dany as Jon walks away from her on the battlements suggests…interest.
3. Focusing on Dany, she has lost a ton so far this season, did you expect her to lose nearly her whole Westerosi army so quickly?
DL: Not. At. All. I figured Dany would come in and lose a little, but not this much this quickly. At this point, if Dany wants to take the Seven Kingdoms she has two options: take it back with the Dothraki and Unsullied or help the North beat the Night King’s army and fight with Jon Snow’s army. I am shocked how quickly she lost her Westerosi army.
SB: Honestly, I did not. The way that Season 6 ended, there is no way that it could have been predicted that Dany would be down in the count so quickly. It feels cheap since it was done over three episodes, but the time constraints of the season help it make a little more sense.
AB: No, and it’s thanks to some poor strategic decisions on Dany’s part (landing at Dragonstone rather than in the south and moving up with the Dornish and Tyrell armies, sending her fleet and Unsullied all the way around to Casterly Rock, not striking at King’s Landing, not protecting Highgarden, and so on). It doesn’t make her character look great, but it does make some sense in-world (Cersei has a strategic leg up on her, and her anti-Dothraki rallying of the troops was very politically clever) and out-of-world (it makes the sides more evenly matched).
AP: I definitely did not expect this, although maybe we all should have. If Cersei were going to fall easily this would have been a very short season.
MC: No, but this is when it’s nice to have dragons! And she may be able to get some much-needed help from Jon and company soon.
JS: Yep. She was way too strong too early in the season. If she hadn’t lost nearly everything, the rest of the season would have been just her rolling over everyone. They definitely underestimated Jamie and Euron.
4. Moving North, Bran has returned to Winterfell! The reception he and Sansa had was pretty short and boring in a way. What did you think of Bran’s return and do you think he deserves a little bit of flack for being so cold to his sister?
DL: My god, was that bad on Bran. Great to see him in Winterfell, but really dude? You haven’t seen your sister in how long and the only thing you bring up is your complicated job and her wedding night rape?
SB: Bran has seen it all, man. He is probably the modern equivalent of a stoner. He is in the past, present and future. He really isn’t Bran anymore, he is the three-eyed raven. He doesn’t care what his words did to his sister. He cut through the BS quickly and showed off his power.
AB: It was great to see Bran back at Winterfell, and I loved Sansa’s initial hug of him. I thought he was definitely too cold and callous, though, especially when it came to describing her rape. He needs to balance this Three-Eyed Raven thing with some humanity.
AP: Bran is creepy as hell now. Clearly, his new Three-Eyed Raven responsibilities have drastically changed who he is, and not in a way that makes him more lovable (or more watchable).
MC: I was stunned to see that it was Bran and not Arya that arrived in Winterfell. The conversation with Sansa was definitely uncomfortable and probably not the best away to go about it for Bran. But he’s been through a lot and seen some crazy shit. You could just tell by how emotionless he was that he’s in a rough mental state. He’s also had such little social interaction and is a teenage boy. I’ll give him a pass.
JS: So, Bran is essentially Dr. Manhattan. Dr. Branhattan, if you will. He’s seen everything and that’s got to take a toll on you mentally and emotionally. In a sense, he’s seen the worst and best of mankind as the Three-Eyed Raven, so he’s definitely feeling a disconnect from the rest of humanity at this point.
5. Moving back South, Cersei is steamrolling the competition, did you expect this to happen at all or at least this quickly?
DL: Coming into the season I thought Cersei would win a little, but certainly not this much. At some point all of this power and success is going to get to her and she’s going to get hurt badly.
SB: Considering that we know that one person is going to have to be in control for the final season as they face off against the White Walkers, it isn’t that surprising. Cersei is such a villain that it doesn’t feel right, but it should only make a Dany redemption all the better.
AB: I thought Cersei would have a much harder time on the Iron Throne than she has so far, but it makes sense; she’s skillfully rallying even those who have reason to hate her against invaders they hate more. And the impressive and surprising competence of Euron and his fleet has helped her a lot.
AP: As I said before, I didn’t expect Cersei to have so much success (and credit to her for pulling it off!), but it makes sense from a plot perspective that she would even the playing field a little to create some drama, before she eventually has to yield.
MC: It’s just setting up for things to go quite poorly for her soon.
JS: Yep! Again, Dany was way too overpowered, and Tyrion clearly underestimated his brother and sister, who is turning out to be more competent than we all originally expected.
6. What will be your memory of the Queen of Thorns? Her final burn of Jamie was amazing.
DL: That was easily the best death scene of the series by far. I don’t care how much you may have loved Ygritte’s death or the Red Wedding or the Purple Wedding. Olenna getting to die an easy death and then tearing Jamie’s heart out in the process was the best by far. The Queen of Thorns was fantastic and she will definitely missed.
SB: She is the MVP of this episode and she may be one of the better “players” of the Game of Thrones. She was constantly moving pieces around on the proverbial chess board. Her death may light a fire under Dany’s butt and prove to be a rallying cry for their side.
AB: Lady Olenna’s scene with Jaime was one of the highlights of this episode for me. I loved her matter-of-factness about everything, from the loss of her castle and army to her impending death, and her final revelation that she was responsible for Joffrey’s death was superbly handled. She was an excellent character, with some of the best moments and lines on the show, and Dame Diana Rigg played her perfectly to the end.
AP: I love love love LOVED Olenna Tyrell and will miss her greatly. She was so sharp and so cunning and ultimately a force for good in the grand scheme of things. She knew how to play the game as well as anyone, and in a way she lost because Dany didn’t take her advice and simply send in the dragons to King’s Landing.
MC: Olenna Tyrell was arguably second to only Tyrion in terms of providing the best dialogue on this show. Her intelligence, sense of humor, confidence, and honesty were tremendous traits. The final scene was perfect in summarizing her character.
JS: Her death scene was just so amazing. Even with her home conquered, she found a way to be in complete control. Just shows how amazing she was as a character, insulting who she wanted, when she wanted. Her time on the show had come, but we’ll miss her.
7. Moving forward, how much longer do you think Cersei will continue to demolish everyone in her way? Will it last or will she be defeated at some point?
DL: I give her less than half of the next episode. In my opinion, the King’s Landing situation has to be settled by the end of episode 6 so that the season finale can be spent setting up the final season. It would only make sense for the next three episodes to be Dany dominating Cersei and not the other way around.
SB: I’ve talked about the idea of the show being “cheap” in the way that they are moving it all along, but I don’t think Cersei will face her untimely demise anytime soon. Her armies will surely have setbacks but she feels like someone that is too good of a villain for the creators to let go.
AB: I think Cersei’s eventually going to get her comeuppance, but not just yet. She’s being built into a capable adversary for Dany, and won’t be easy to overcome, but I see Dany and her dragons eventually winning the day.
AP: At this point, how many more victories are there for Cersei to win? She’s knocked out most of her enemies who aren’t indispensable plot-movers. I think she’ll get one more victory before her ultimate defeat: A dragon is going down. Once that happens, we’ll gear up for a big battle of King’s Landing, maybe in the penultimate episode, which Cersei pretty much has to lose.
MC: She’s going down soon. We know how this show is; the highs don’t last for very long. She’s had everything go right for her for four straight episodes, going back to last season’s finale. It will get very ugly for her — at some point — in the coming weeks.
JS: My gut is telling me that this’ll be the last major victory, for now, for Cersei. The purpose of these early victories was to weaken Dany to the point where she needs Jon and embolden Cersei where she can start to go a little mad. We’ve reached that point, so I think we’ll start to see a movement toward parity. This season will end in a stalemate.
8. What do you think Dany needs to do to counteract Cersei and fight back?
DL: Be. A. Dragon.
SB: She has to let the dragons go. The armies are armies and will fight to mostly a stalemate against one another. The game changer of it all is the dragons. If they want to flip the script, the dragons will need to be let loose.
AB: She has to overcome some of her worries about civilian casualties and strike hard at King’s Landing, and she needs to get her dragons involved. Olenna’s parting advice of “be a dragon” may yet prove appropriate.
AP: She needs to beg Jon to team up, then use his army to storm King’s Landing in a good old-fashioned battle, with some aerial support from the remaining dragons, of course.
MC: Dragons! Cersei’s fancy weapons be damned.
JS: An alliance with the North would be a start. Also, dragons. Utilize at least one in a location away from civilians. Like the Lannister army that is at Highgarden. We saw her using Drogon in the season trailer, so I suspect that’s what will happen. She’s lost pretty much everything else, besides the Dothraki.
SEMI-SPOILER WARNING: The final two questions discuss the trailer for episode 4. Do not read them if you don’t want to be “spoiled.”
9. It looks like Arya is returning to Winterfell possibly next week. What do you think that’ll be like when she, Bran, and Sansa are all together again? After all, we haven’t seen them in the same “city” together since the very first episode!
DL: I think it’ll be fascinating. I mean when was the last time we saw three Starks together? Probably season one. It’ll be interesting to see Arya and Sansa interact specifically because they hated each other. Finally, with Arya back, will Bran just knock out two burns with one stone and tell both of his sisters what he is exactly now.
SB: Quickly, Sansa is going to realize that her remaining family has been through some shit. They aren’t the same people they once were and because of it, there may be a visible rift. It feels like something Littlefinger could try to play off of and make into a bit of drama he can spin in his favor.
AB: I’d love to see a Stark family reunion, and especially one where they can talk a bit about how they’ve changed from their experiences. I don’t expect Arya’s reunion with Sansa and Bran to be easy, given what’s happened to all of them, but I think there could be great potential in it.
AP: I’m happy to say that I think the three of them back together will lead one way or another to the downfall of Littlefinger. He’s about to make his move, but with so many Starks back together (and Jon potentially on his way), Sansa doesn’t need an outsider offering counsel.
MC: It will be awesome, and it will be interesting to see if Bran shows a bit more emotion for that.
JS: They will be glad to see each other, but they’re all so damaged. Sansa has probably had the most happen to her, but she seems to also be the least damaged (which really speaks to her strength of character). As I mentioned early, Bran is a tree god, so he’ll need to rebuild his humanity first. Arya is a face-changing killing machine. Look at her interaction with Hot Pie to see how she is with people now.
10. The trailer shows Drogon flying somewhere and possibly to a battle. If that’s the case, who do you think Dany is attacking?
DL: It would only make sense that he’s flying either to King’s Landing or wherever the Lannister army is now. Maybe that’s at Highgarden? In one of the main Season 7 trailers, we see Jamie riding his horse through a battlefield covered in fire. I think we’ll see that clip again in episode four.
SB: The bet would be that she is attacking the Lannisters after they attacked Highgarden. Highgarden is the only place with piles of money and they are going to be bringing it back to Kings Landing to pay off the bank. It can’t be that easy, though. She is going to attack them before they get back to Kings Landing and should put a sizable dent in her enemy’s army.
AB: I’d love to see Dany bring in the dragons, and I think a logical first move is a strike at Euron and his fleet. Euron’s fleet is too dominant for them to beat by conventional means, but it might have a tough time against the dragons, and that could clear the way for a strike at King’s Landing.
AP: Do we know that’s Drogon? If it were, wouldn’t Dany be on his back? I expect that she’ll send one of the dragons, probably the one named after Viserys, on some kind of mission to King’s Landing that will result in him being shot down by Cersei’s new toy.
MC: Lannister soldiers, but where remains to be seen.
JS: We see a dragon, probably Drogon, attacking a Lannister army in the season trailer. With Jamie returning to King’s Landing with an army, they are both exposed and isolated from collateral damage. This would make the most sense.
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